Black Diamond hires city attorney with land use expertise

The Black Diamond City Council moved forward with multiple issues at its March 6 meeting, including officially hiring a new city attorney.

The council selected Morris Law, from Gig Harbor, out of three firms that bid their services. Morris Law’s areas of expertise include land-use litigation and mitigation, municipal law and zoning and cannabis law.

Carol Morris, who is also city attorney for the city of Ruston, will be the primary attorney, with Jennifer Robertson providing backup services.

Morris has more than 20 years of experience as a city attorney or special legal counsel in over 35 Washington cities.

Morris works with the Association of Washington Cities in land use litigation matters.

Councilwoman Carol Benson said Morris came highly recommended by former city administrator Mark Hoppen, who worked with her while Gig Harbor went through its period of growth.

“She’s not pro-development,” Benson said. “She will help make sure this development is done correctly.”

Morris takes over for Stephen Dijulio who accepted the roll on an interim basis after the law firm Kenyon Disend abruptly quit in January when Christy Todd was hired as city administrator. Mike Kenyon, founding partner of the firm, told The Reporter that he resigned because of a pending legal claim against the city of Maple Valley that involves Todd, who was city attorney of Maple Valley at the time of the claim.

Todd said she was excited about Morris’ hiring.

“She’s been doing this a really long time,” Todd said. “She really knows land use and municipal law in general. I think we’ll be in good hands.”

Dijulio said a number of issues, including the administration transition and cannabis issues, caused more work than anticipated, but he believes Black Diamond addresses the same issues as many other cities with similar service levels.

Morris will receive $220 per hour for her services.

In other council news, the city unanimously approved a resolution opposing King County’s Transportation Benefit District ballot measure. A letter will be sent to the King County Council.

The council also delayed its interviews for two the mayor’s two planning commission appointees until a special meeting that was scheduled for March 13.


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